Remember your younger days when you carried a heavy weight bag to school? Many would be surprised to know that that weight has been steadily reducing for the current generation. Efforts have been taken by the principals, teachers and parents to reduce the physical burden of the children, while going to school.
It has been long years that school children have carried heavy bags. It has been realized that this kind of stress is not good for the mental development of the child. This is what Dr. Chandrakanta Jain, Ph.D, Clinical Psychology would like to say, “The increased weight of the bags might also give an aversion from school. The child will always want to be free.”
Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Shailendra Telang explains, “A heavy school bag can cause longstanding back problems which may continue and trouble the individual during adulthood. Problems include chronic back pain, distortion of the normal ‘S’ shape curve of the spine and a sagging appearance of the shoulders. Parents, at their end, can help reduce the burden on the child by buying an appropriately sized schoolbag (for the child’s age) and ensuring that the load is not too heavy.”
He suggests, “A diplomatic conversation with the child’s school management, about limiting the number of books daily, would definitely help. The schoolbag should weigh less than 10% of the child’s bodyweight. Prefer to buy a schoolbag with a well moulded frame and pack the heaviest items such that they are closest to the child’s back.”
Dr. Jain’s suggestion is, “It is better for them to learn from very few books, supplemented by events created in the class room, e.g. if you need to explain about sanitation, you have to demonstrate that if only you keep your hands clean you can avoid the germs which cause diseases.”
Many schools have started implementing changes in their own way. Swami Vivekanand International School (SVIS), Mumbai serves as an example. Jagruti Barot, an SVIS teacher says, “In our school, we use worksheets till the 7th std. After the lesson is over and the questions discussed, the students leave the worksheets home and only refer to them during exams. Textbooks are brought according to time table. In a day at least 2 periods per day is devoted to such periods like Arts, games, PT, Library and Music, where no textbooks are required. It is compulsory for the students to bring only language books. For Maths, Science, History and Geography textbooks are not required. One note book of 100 pages is required for rough work and any extra information.”
She adds, “For the students of 8th to 10th stds. in the past 3 years we have done away with notebooks. Instead we use perforated papers in notebooks, which are supplied from school. The students bring only a few pages to the class. They don’t need to bring all the pages. Since on a bench at least 2 students sit, for subjects like Maths, Maths I book is brought by one and Maths II book by another. In History and Geography, while explanation is done, textbooks are not required. They are needed only when markings are given. If maps are being done in class, they are told so before hand. Science practical days are fixed, so they bring the journals only on those days. Computer practicals and theory are on different days and they bring the books accordingly.”
Also, in their school, they all see to it that the weight of the bag is optimum. The principal often randomly picks up the bags to feel the weight. If it is heavy, the bag is checked and the students are told not to bring unnecessary things.
“Ours is a vertical building with 2 lifts, which cannot carry all 1800 students,” Mrs. Chandrakanta Pathak, Principal, HVB Academy highlighted another aspect. “They have to take the stairs. Firstly, at this age physical exercise is required. At the same time physically and scientifically, we have to think about the burden that they are carrying every day. Parents compel the students to go to 2-3 tuition classes after school. Therefore, the students have to carry the tuition books besides school books. So we devised a locker system for them. There is a locker for each and every student in his or her class. There is a specific homework timetable. The primary students get homework in not more than 1subject per day, while the secondary students get the same for 2 subjects. The teachers do not wait for the weekend to give the homework. Secondly tuition is not the need of the hour. In our school there is hi end teaching equipment in each and every classroom. The students can learn well in the classroom itself. Thirdly time management is taught to the students. The counselor also organizes workshops for the children, teachers and parents.”
This article was originally published in Eve’s Times and is reproduced here with the permission of the editor, Swati Amar.